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Telling Secrets

faith, fatherhood, and culture

Cars In Our Hearts

Saturday, June 02, 2007













If you want to sound like an idiot, try explaining what a spirit is to a 4-year old. If you want to really plumb your own moronic depths, throw some basic Christian theology on top of that. Talking theology makes my cranial cavity feel stuffed with chloroform-soaked cotton balls as it is.

It has been about a month since Malachi and I have had a late-night bedtime chat and I've missed them. Finally, tonight, we stumbled on an old connection and picked it up again.

He has never, ever, liked being alone. Especially while going to sleep. I have taken the opportunity to instill in him the reality of God's presence and that this keeps Malachi from being ever truly alone. A tough trick to pull off, but I guess a 4-year old probably could believe it more sincerely than someone my age, or, plainly, than me. A few weeks ago, I drew our townhouse on his chalkboard and then drew a stick figure Jesus bestraddling our rounded gable. He thought this was perverse then and I discovered tonight that his opinion had not changed.

"Daddy, I don't want God on the roof of our house."

"Ok, buddy, I'll take him off. But you know I drew him there because he's always around. So you're never alone, ok? He's always with you and you can talk to him whenever you want."

"Oh. That's Jesus on the roof, remember?"

"You're right, that was Jesus I drew."

"He's in our hearts too?"

"Well, yeah, if we want him to, he comes in our hearts. Then he helps us live the way he wants us to."

"When will he get out?"

"Well, I guess he doesn't. He's always there because he loves us."

"How does he get in there?"

"It's his spirit that goes in. You know what a spirit is? You know when you think things but you don't say them?"

Mo' shakes his head and frowns.

"You think things...in your head...and...you don't say them..."

He shakes his head again.

"Well, when you do, that's your spirit--that's really you in your body. And that's what Jesus puts in your heart too--his spirit."

"But, when does he come out?"

"He doesn't, buddy, when you ask him to be there. And you can talk to him anytime so you're never alone."

"Jesus is with God, though."

"Yeah, but his spirit's in our hearts."

"Is Mary in our heart too? Can we talk to her?"

"I don't really know."

"There were two Marys. One was by herself and one was with Jesus."

"You're right! How did you know?"

"I saw a video. One was crying. But the other one looked for him after he was gone and then she found him."

"You're right again."

"When was Jesus in Mary's belly?"

"Oh, a long long long time ago. Before there were cars or airplanes. They didn't even know how to make cars way back then."

"Really?"

"Really."

"But God knew how to make cars."

"That's true, I suppose he did. Hey, should we talk to him?"

"You do it, daddy. You talk to him."

"Alright, um...Dear Lord. Thank you for Malachi and for how wonderful he is..."

In a loud whisper--"No, daddy. Don't say that. Ask him to put cars in our heart."

"Um, ok...uh, Lord, thank you for Malachi's great imagination..."

"No no, daddy, ask him for cars in our hearts!"

"Uuhhh, Lord? Thank you for cars and, if you can, would you put cars in our hearts? Thank you for our cars and our house and please take care of people who don't have cars or houses. Use us to help the people you want us to..."

Loud whisper still--"Tell God that everybody needs a house."

"Yeah, you're right. Lord, Malachi is right, everyone needs a house. Would you please give everyone a house to live in? Amen."

I kissed him goodnight, descended the bunkbed ladder, went to the chalkboard and rubbed Jesus out.